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China 3G users break 200M milestone

More Chinese mobile users are tapping on 3G networks to stay active on social media sites such as Sina Weibo, which helps double the adoption rate between 2011 and 2012.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

China's 3G development continues to grow apace, with the number of local users climbing past the 200-million mark as of September this year.

Sina Tech, citing statistics from the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), reported Wednesday the subscriber base grew from 192.5 million in August to 202.6 million in September.

To put the growth in perspective, the agency pointed out 3G licenses were only issued to operators in 2009 and it took two years to garner the first 100 million users. The pace has since doubled, given the next 100 million users were added in just a year, the MIIT stated.

The 3G user growth in China runs in parallel with the increasing consumer demand for Internet services such as Sina's microblogging service Weibo, which the MIIT identified as one of the main activities people use the wireless service for. As of end-2011, the agency said 249.8 million Weibo users were registered but Sina stated this has grown to 300 million in February this year.

China's 3G market will still have time to grow further, despite the confusion over the government's plans regarding releasing 4G licenses to operators which might cannibalize 3G services. In March, the MIIT indicated it would likely wait at least another two years before issuing 4G licenses so that more base stations can be built and vendors can develop handsets for the high-speed network.

However, the agency appeared to backtrack on its earlier stance when Miao Wei, head of MIIT, said the country will start issuing the licenses in about a year's time. This will be a boost to the locally-driven Time-Division Long-Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology.


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